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Old Field village justice election ends in unprecedented tie

The race for village justice in tiny Old Field has ended in a tie and will be decided next month in a special election, officials said Thursday.

Incumbent Ron LaVita of the Justice Party and challenger Ted Rosenberg of the Lighthouse Party each received 114 votes in Tuesday’s election. It was the only election in Old Field this year that ended in a draw — Mayor Michael Levine and trustee candidates Bruce Feller and Thomas Pirro ran uncontested.

The tie vote appears to be a rarity in Old Field, which has been an incorporated village since 1927.

“I don’t recall hearing that this has happened before,” Village Clerk Adrienne Kessel said.

Kessel said Thursday the runoff election would be held April 3. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. at Keeper’s Cottage, adjacent to Old Field Village Hall, 207 Old Field Rd.

The small North Shore village in Brookhaven Town has one judge, who serves for a four-year term. The position is unpaid. The village had 918 residents as of the last U.S. Census in 2010.

LaVita, 60, an attorney in private practice who has been village justice for 20 years, said absentee votes may have helped his opponent achieve a tie. LaVita said all of his votes came from residents who voted at the polls, while Rosenberg received votes from 10 absentee ballots.

“My only regret is that I didn’t pursue absentee ballots the way my opponent did,” LaVita said. “I may have to reconsider the use of absentee ballots.”

Rosenberg, 64, a former village trustee and partner in a Holtsville law firm, said he was “totally shocked” by the tie vote.

“It was the most surprising outcome,” Rosenberg said. “Not what I expected at all.”

He said he encouraged several voters, including his children who are away at college, to vote by absentee ballot because they said they had planned to be out of town on Tuesday.

Rosenberg said he hopes to organize a public candidates forum at which he and LaVita can discuss issues and take questions. He said he had not called LaVita to organize the forum.

“I think the more people know, the better decision people can make,” Rosenberg said. “I think that’s a good thing.”

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